More than two months after her husband Xi Jinping was elected president of China, Peng Liyuan is settling into her role as the country’s new first lady.

Peng Liyuan was well-known as one of China’s leading singers before her husband assumed power. She sang syrupy sweet folk songs celebrating the wonders of China’s progress for decades on state-run television in China.

Peng Liyuan
Peng Liyuan

She may be China’s secret weapon for courting the West, though, as she has suddenly become the focus of the Western media on the couple’s international travels. Since Jiang Qing, the late wife of Chairman Mao Zedong, Ms. Peng is China’s first prominent political spouse at the highest level.

The wives of former Chinese leaders, from Deng Xiaoping to departing leader Hu Jintao, stayed mainly in the background. Ms. Peng has been compared to Carla Bruni, a former first lady of France, overseas.

Meet Peng Longkun and Li Xiuying

Peng Logkun and Li Xiuying are known to be the famed parents of first lady Peng Liyuan. A local culture center was curated by Peng Longkun. Peng Longkun underwent “transformation via labor,” as the Communist Party officials put it.

He had visits from Peng and her mother, who washed his dirty clothes and gave him cash and food stamps.

While her mother and father held hands under the wall of the restrooms her father had been made to clean, Peng served as a lookout, hiding under a tree and yelling bird calls to alert them if anyone was nearby.

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